Composed 1988, revised 2017
Suite For Orchestra was composed while I was in sixth form studying for A levels. I have included it here to show where I began on my composition journey – it may not be ground-breaking in its structure or tonality, but I am still quite proud of it!
The notes below are taken from my original programme notes.
The ‘Suite for Orchestra’ owes much of its being to a train journey from Liverpool to York early one January morning at the start of 1988 during which I sketched the first few bars of a piece for flute, clarinet and piano – ‘Rêveries’ as I decided to call it.
After a few weeks and much deliberation, I made up my mind to re-work the piece for small orchestra (strings and woodwind) and to add a couple of contrasting pieces, an Elegy and a dance perhaps, to compliment it. Then, later, after much thought, I decided to add an opening piece and hence the ‘Suite for Orchestra’ was born.
The 1st movement, ‘Chorale’, was written between July and September 1988 and is based mainly on two ideas – the very opening dialogue between piano and strings and the actual ‘chorale’, stated quietly on the woodwind. The central section is a fugue which gradually builds up in intensity as each instrument enters until it climaxes on an open chord, which disappears to reveal a recapitulation of the 1st section, this time ending in the home key. Then a short coda on the piano calms the pace down to set the scene for the second piece.
The 2nd piece, ‘Rêveries’ is a lyrical fragment, almost entirely based on the theme heard at the outset on the flute. Being finished in March 1988, it was the first movement to be completed and sets out to deliberately distract the listener. If you manage to keep concentrating on it, you haven’t really ‘heard’ it properly.
The 3rd movement, ‘Elegy’, was composed in March and April of 1988 and revised in October of the same year. It is based on the plainsong ‘Lux Aeterna’, and hence has a rather fluid form combined with a funeral type March.
The final piece, ‘Dance’, despite being the longest of the four pieces, took the least time to compose, being written in November 1988. It sets out to keep the listener on edge and should not be taken too seriously.
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